What is an efficient way of reducing food waste globally?

Awards

goa-citation

How Big of an Issue is Food Waste?

 

What is the Best Place to Tackle Food Waste?

I believe the best place to tackle this issue is at individually and at home. Limiting household food waste will have a big impact, a study by USDA’s Economic Research Service shows that household food waste makes up 31% of overall wasted food in America. (USDA) Furthermore, when people become aware of the environmental impact of their food waste, they will likely be eager to change their habits in the hope that others do as well. And even if people are not environmentally conscious, I believe the incentive of saving a good sum of the $1600 lost each year to food waste is enough to enact change towards peoples consumption habits. (EPA) By tackling the issue at home people can save money, feel a part of the food waste reduction movement and be more environmentally conscious.

Fill out this survey on your food waste habits at home: https://forms.gle/1CHFMYreQSPswHtY8

I will post the results if possible.

What are some apps that try to reduce food waste at home?

Fridgely

 

 Fridgely is an app that allows you and your friends and/or family to see when all of your food will expire on the same platform. Fridgely was launched in 2015 and is currently on the app store. The app has suffered issues with data not transferring through multiple accounts. The app also has issues with its barcode scanner feature. The bar code scanner is inconsistent and forces users to manually input all of their groceries. Furthermore, the creators of the app update Fridgely sparingly causing big glitches to go unmaintained for months on end harming the overall service. 

Beep!

 

Beep Was created in 2017 and shares many similar qualities with Fridgely both in its premise and its failures. Beep Actually has fewer overall features when compared with Fridgely. Beep shares Fridgely’s feature of scanning barcodes and notifying you about expiration dates. Beep’s biggest difference from Fridgely is it allows users to sort their expiration dates through types of food. Beep like, Fridgely, also struggles with its accuracy in scanning barcodes for expiration dates. Beep is also no longer maintained as of February 2020.

 

Why aren’t these products effective?

First, the apps were not maintained properly leading to glitches in the app reducing the effectiveness of their product and their consumers experience.

Secondly, the scanning a bar code for an expiration date does not always work. This is because not all bar codes are the same. Most barcodes are simply there so the retailer can scan it and sell you the product. Now there is a barcode called the GS1 that does provide expiration date when scanned. This explains why the barcode scanner on these apps sometimes works and other times does not. (GS1 Global Data Dictionary)

Thirdly, the apps don’t address the issue of the misconception of expiration dates. Many people do not understand that food is still good even though it has passed it’s “expiration date”. If the label says “Sell by” then that is when the market needs to sell the product by. If the label says “Best by” that also is not the expiration date. That is the date when the product is at its freshest. Unless your food becomes moldy, tastes or smells weird or has odd coloring or texture, then it is probably still good. Expiration dates are usually inaccurate and provide a ballpark estimate as to when a food should be eaten. So tracking the “best-by” and “sell-by” dates can help you keep an awareness of when your food is nearing the expiration date but not tell exactly when the food has gone bad. (San Antonio Express-News)

My Response and proposed product

My proposed solution is to integrate QR codes into all food products to provide users with expiration dates. The reason I would use a QR code and not a GS1 code is because QR codes are easier to scan. Bar codes can only be scanned horizontally, while QR codes can be scanned from any direction. Secondly, the QR codes are distinct compared to a barcode and ensure that the expiration date when scanning will be accurate. 

The QR codes will send you to a link that will input the product information and the expiration date into the apps calendar. I know that creating a link like this is possible to do because there are apps that have calendars and dates on them, like ESPN’s scoreboard.

Secondly, in the app itself I will create a customizable alert system that tells you when the food is going to reach it’s best-by date and push people to use their soon to be expiring foods. 

Thirdly, I will send alerts that ask users to update when they opened products that expire quickly after opened and then provide an estimate as to when that product expires and alert users a few days beforehand. 

Fourthly, I will use the app to educate customers on common misconceptions of best-by and sell-by dates. This will include reminders similar to, “even thought a best-by date has passed the food may still be good and just is not as fresh as it could be. ” 

How will I integrate QR codes onto products?

This is definitely the most difficult task, however, I believe that it is achievable. First I must convince businesses that using QR codes on their product is worth their time, resources, and money. For one, it incentivizes customers to buy a product if it has a QR code with an expiration date on it due to its convenience. Secondly, a study titled The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste’s found that almost all businesses that limit food waste have a higher return on investment than those who do not. They also found that half of these companies return on investment was “14 fold or greater”. (Champions 12.3) So, I believe that businesses will be incentivized to use my product and as long as the product is successful I shouldn’t have too much of an issue convincing businesses to use it.

My Design

When you open the app it will immediately open to the scanner. I want the app to open immediately to the scanner because when you are scanning things it is important to have the app and process be as convenient as possible.

(OSXdaily)

At the bottom you will be able to change pages on the app. By clicking on the bottom it will take you to a calendar list of your upcoming expirations. If you want to view upcoming expirations for specific types of food just click on one of the types of food on the top and it will take you there.

My Pitch

My products name is Expiration Alert, but if you have any better ideas feel free to comment below.

Thank you so much for looking over my presentation. I hope that you learned something new about food waste and how large of an issue it is. I encourage you to discuss the issue of food waste with those around you and raise awareness on the issue. If you have any feedback on how my business idea could be improved I would love to hear from you.

3 Comments

3 comments

  1. Avatar

    Hi Bram, I really enjoyed your pitch for your app. Your data and framing were compelling and this does seem like a universal problem that would help society if addressed. I’m also interested in how the choice in scan formats (you recommended QR codes) can be an invisible (to me) barrier in uptake and use for consumers. Well done!

  2. Sarah Troup-Galligan

    Hi Bram! Your project does a great job of presenting a major issue, food waste, and how harmful it is to the environment and economy. I really like your app idea. It is really creative and I will do a great job of highlighting people’s food choices instead of letting food go bad sitting in the back of a fridge only to be thrown away once it is discovered. Nice job!

  3. Mimi

    Hi Bram! Your project directly addresses a major environmental, economic, and social concern. I like how your project goes through the process of identifying the problem and looking at previous failures and successes before creating and presenting your pitch. It is a great idea to have the expiration dates of the food to a calendar that sends reminders!

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